Can You Get Braces Just for Your Top or Bottom Teeth?

Can You Get Braces Just for Your Top or Bottom Teeth?
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Table of Contents

  1. Braces for Bottom Teeth
  2. Braces for Top Teeth
  3. How Braces Help
  4. Risks of Single-Arch Treatment
  5. Recommended Approach
  6. Savings
  7. Twice the Braces
  8. Which Is More Popular?
  9. References

Yes, you can get braces on either the top or bottom, without getting braces for both jaws. This is generally because you only have a few misaligned teeth in one location.

However, this approach may not necessarily be faster or less expensive. There might be some underlying dental alignment problems that could benefit from having braces on both jaws.

Woman with Top Braces Only

Braces for Bottom Teeth

When braces are applied to only one jaw (either the upper or lower), it is single-arch treatment or one-arch orthodontic treatment.  

Braces may be applied to only the bottom teeth in rare cases, such as these:

  • Children who are just beginning orthodontic treatment and have most of their issues in their bottom teeth
  • Individuals whose upper teeth are relatively straight and have only very minor malocclusion (teeth misalignment issues) with their bottom teeth

Bottom-only braces may also be an option for those with a significant overbite who have straight top teeth and crowding in the bottom teeth. This method could help the bottom teeth to move forward, minimizing the overbite.

Braces for Top Teeth

Braces on the top teeth only is another form of single-arch treatment. Again, while these cases are rare, an orthodontist may recommend top teeth-only braces for people who fit these criteria:

  • Are still in the development phase of teeth and jaw growth (children and adolescents) and beginning a multi-phase orthodontic treatment
  • Have straight bottom teeth but minor malocclusion issues with the top teeth

Braces for top teeth only may be effective for those with an overbite, straight bottom teeth, and gaps in their upper teeth. This is because closing gaps tends to move teeth back, and this can reduce or eliminate the overbite.

Because treating crowded teeth tends to move them forward, braces on the top teeth could also work to fix an underbite (when the upper teeth are behind the lower teeth) if the underbite features straight bottom teeth and crowded top teeth.

More than Beauty: How Braces Help your Bite

A healthy, beautiful smile exposes all of your central and lateral upper incisors, beauty experts say. The rest of your teeth stay covered by your lips when you smile. Shouldn't you focus your braces on the parts of your teeth others can see?

It's critical to remember that your teeth aren't beauty accessories. You also use those teeth for tasks like these:

Your tongue taps on your teeth for hard consonant sounds, and your voice reverberates and echoes through the enamel. If you have gaps in your teeth or a pronounced overbite, there may be a slight whistling sound when you talk that sounds like a lisp.
We use sharp front teeth to bite food.
Back teeth are essential for breaking down food.

Risks of Single-Arch Treatment

Your teeth don't work in isolation. Upper and lower sets come together to form your bite, and even tiny adjustments can have big repercussions.

Adjust just one part of your mouth, and your front and back teeth could come together with excessive force, experts say. You could chip or crack your teeth each time the set comes together. You could also exert too much pressure on your bone and gums.

Conversely, changing just one part of your bite could stop your teeth from meeting at all. A big gap could make chewing impossible, and it could put excess strain on your muscles and tendons.

Minor issues, such as gapping teeth, can be adjusted with just one set of braces or aligners, but most experts recommend treating both your top and bottom teeth at the same time, so you preserve your bite and your oral health.

Will you Save Money?

Consumers often think of dental treatments as packages. If you cut the needed therapy in half by treating one set of teeth and not the other, you should save money, right? Experts don't always agree.

To adjust your smile, dental professionals must do the following:

Assess Your Teeth
Dental impressions, photographs, and more help dental experts identify how your teeth should move.
Create A Plan
Your team must figure out which teeth should move, and they often must assess movement sequences. Some teeth must move first so others can fill in the gaps, for example.
Offer Hardware
Your team must provide braces or aligners to help those teeth move.
Supervise The Moves
Your team must check in with you to ensure that the plan is working and your teeth are shifting.

These same steps apply whether you're moving one set of teeth or both. If you're hoping to skip movement on one arch to save a chunk of money, you might be disappointed.

Woman with Bottom Braces Only

Twice the Braces

You want to improve your smile, but you want to save money. And you want to ease pain. There are plenty of things you can do to meet your goals without putting your health and your bite at risk.

If you're considering single-arch braces due to these common concerns, it's time to think again. Here are some of the disadvantages:

Single-arch braces may not save you money. But many aligner companies and orthodontists offer payment plans that help you improve your smile without harming your budget. You can also use health savings accounts (HSAs) and health insurance to help you pay for care.
Moving your teeth can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be overly painful. If you're concerned about how much braces will hurt, consider aligners. They won't cut up your lips the way braces might, and many people find that they are more comfortable than braces.
Braces on your top and lower teeth are hard to miss. You could opt for porcelain braces, which have white brackets others may not notice. Or you could use clear aligners that are very difficult to spot.
Adjustment Severity
If you're not sure that you need help with both your top and bottom teeth, talk with a dental expert. Let that person explain how your teeth come together and why adjusting your bite is critical. You might find your concerns fade.
Your smile showcases your beauty. But your teeth are critical to your health. Don't let misconceptions keep you from the care you need. Ask questions and do your homework to ensure that you get the treatment that's right for your mouth and your health.


Smile Science: The Anatomy of a Smile. (September 2011). Portland Monthly

Does Your Child Really Need Braces? Reader’s Digest Canada.

Is Single Arch Treatment Good for Your Patients? (October 2017). Orca Dental. 

Frequently Asked Questions. Byte.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.